By Lisa Schmid - ICEJ Germany
Durban I, South Africa
The original goal of the United Nations anti racism conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 was to acknowledge that slavery and colonialism is a crime. But instead of dealing with the painful colonial past something different happened – the event mutated into an anti-Semitic show trial against Israel. The Arab League together with non-aligned countries and some African states made use of their automatic majority to show-case Israel as a scapegoat for every real and perceived offense of the west. Fueled by reports of the just erupted second Palestinian intifada Israel was the only country out of 194 states worldwide to be placed in the dock. Zionism was equated with racism and apartheid, while at the same time ongoing human rights violations in Sudan and Congo were not even mentioned much less the persecution of minorities in the Islamic world.
Fiamma Nierenstein, who now serves as vice chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee of the Italian parliament was a journalist reporting on the first Durban conference in South Africa. According to Nierenstein: “Jews wearing a kippah had to escape demonstrators who were carrying around portraits of Osama Bin Laden and chased Jews. Jewish community centers in the town were stormed and closed. The press conference of the Israeli delegation was violently attacked and interrupted. Israel was equated with the German Nazis and particularly in South Africa accused of apartheid to question her right of existence.”
Just a few days later the terror attacks of 9-11 displaced Durban I in the headlines.
Durban II in Geneva
The follow-up conference “Durban II” in Geneva in 2009 was not as violent as the previous one but just as anti-Semitic. It started on the 20th of April, the very same day when Israel commemorated the victims of the Holocaust. The main speaker was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a known Holocaust denier. He characterized “the Zionist occupiers of Palestine” (Israel) as “racist”, “extremely brutal” and “criminal” and accused the Jewish state of the Crime of Genocide. He stigmatized “Zionists” as the root of the trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some countries such as Israel, the USA and Germany learned from the debacle in 2001 and from the inception stayed away from the event. Delegates of other western nations walked out of the room in protest when Ahmadinejad delivered his speech but the majority of the delegates stayed – including many who gave the Iranian dictator a standing ovation.
Durban III in New York
The Majority of the 128 countries present at Durban II succeeded in putting the first Durban declaration – which equated ‘Zionism with racism’ on the United Nations agenda once again. The stated goal of the Third Durban conference in New York on the 23rd of September 2011 is to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Durban declaration and to incorporate “the implementation of the Durban declaration in the established human rights of the UN framework” (draft of the final statement). In other words – anti-Semitism, hatred of Israel and the Jews will be written into the official “human rights” policies of the United Nations. The timing of this initiative is especially controversial as it will take place shortly after the vote of the United Nations on the recognition of a Palestinian state at the annual opening of the General Assembly. The demonization of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people will once again be happening at the highest level – in front of the ruling leaders of the world. And the keynote speaker will once again be the Iranian President Ahmadinejad!
As of the end of August the USA, Canada, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, the Czech Republic and Austria have all canceled their participation in the Durban III conference in protest against its anti-Semitic and one-sided agenda. At the beginning of September, after numerous requests from different Jewish and Christian groups - among them the ICEJ - Germany also decided not to participate in the event. It is hoped that more countries will follow.